A mother has revealed how she spotted her daughter’s cancer symptom while she was having dinner.
Danielle Prior, from Surrey, was feeding 18-month-old Evie earlier this year when she saw a usual “white ring” and “cloudiness” in her eye.
The 30-year-old woman called her GP and within an hour she had an appointment with the 11-month-old child, who was referred for further tests and check-ups.
The results revealed that she had retinoblastoma, a rare type of eye cancer, which only 44 children in the UK and 300 in the US are diagnosed with each year.
The little girl underwent months of treatment and is now in remission, although her mother said it is a “time bomb” to see if the cancer will return.
Evie Prior was just 11 months old when she was diagnosed with a rare cancer that consumed three-quarters of her eye.
In January, they received the devastating diagnosis that Evie had retinoblastoma, which affects the retina at the back of the eye.
During her GP appointment earlier this year, Evie underwent a red reflex test, which looks for a white, yellow or black reflection in the eye, which can be a sign of a serious eye condition, to check if his eye was healthy.
The child was then referred to an ophthalmologist.
Evie then underwent exploratory surgery under general anesthesia that confirmed a grade D retinoblastoma (meaning it was at an advanced stage) consuming three-quarters of her eye.
The cancer, which is usually caused by a mutation that develops in a single gene as the eye develops, most commonly affects children under the age of five.
A white glow or reflection in the center of the pupil is the most common symptom. Other signs may include squinting, a change in iris color, and swelling around the eye.
About 44 percent of those diagnosed are in the first year of life and approximately 63 percent are diagnosed in only one eye.
Mrs Prior said: ‘(When I got the news), I broke down, I didn’t want to talk to anyone, I just wanted to block it all out.
‘I wasn’t really eating or sleeping and I suffered from anxiety.
‘Before Evie was diagnosed we kept thinking ‘maybe we’re wrong’, that it could be benign or just cataracts.
Mum Danielle Prior, 30, from Surrey, said the devastating diagnosis “broke her” and she “suffered from anxiety”.
Evie underwent six grueling rounds of intra-arterial chemotherapy in hopes of eliminating the cancer.
“When I got new news, I went into a deep black hole until I could discover treatments.”
Evie underwent six grueling rounds of intra-arterial chemotherapy (a concentrated dose of chemotherapy given directly into the affected eye) in hopes of eliminating the cancer.
Even though doctors believed the treatment had initially worked, her cancer was still present.
Her parents opted to continue with the treatment in the hope that it would work rather than the girl having to undergo surgery to remove the eye, another treatment option.
Evie is now in remission but has checks at the Royal London Hospital every six weeks.
Mrs Prior said: “We are in a limbo stage now and we see it as a ticking time bomb, but it is very difficult when you don’t want to make the wrong decision.”
‘This treatment has had a good success rate in other countries and sometimes saves vision too, so we are just trying to help her.
Evie’s mother first noticed the ‘white ring’ when she was giving the little girl tea
Now 18 months old Evie, who loves the preschool cartoon series Pepper Pig, is in remission but has regular checks at the Royal London Hospital every six weeks.
“We know what it’s like to grow up (with a visible difference) – people can be horrible, especially if you lose a body part that is so visually obvious.”
And he added: ‘We will have to have her checked until she is an adult; The doctors told me that at a certain point it would no longer be a problem. Basically, when eyes stop growing, they should remain stable.
“But for now, he still has the tumor in his eye because they can’t do a safe operation where they can actually remove the tumor without the possibility of it spreading to the brain.”
Mrs Prior said Evie suffers from anxiety as a result of her frequent visits to the doctor.
She said: ‘She’s scared and nervous, this (going to appointments and dealing with treatment) has really affected her.
“She just doesn’t like strangers and is even a little hesitant around other kids, it’s horrible to see.”
“We just hope to regain their trust.
‘They’re a really good team at Royal London; I can’t fault them, they’re lovely but it’s a work in progress.
He also praised the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust for their “fantastic” help.
He added: “That’s the only place I can find comfort because they can relate to what you’re going through.” No one else really understands it.
‘There are also family support groups on Facebook that I have joined. It can be comforting to see other stories that seem positive and help you see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“We’re trying to take each day as it comes and keep a positive attitude.”